Edinburgh Tram extension could cost £145m
City of Edinburgh councillors are to look into options to extend the tram network to Newhaven, Ocean Terminal or the foot of Leith Walk.
The council will be presented with the emerging conclusions of a £400,000 draft outline business case next week, which has found that taking the tram to Newhaven would cost £145m, to take the line to Ocean Terminal it would be £127m and £80m to the foot of Leith Walk.
An option to stop at MacDonald Road, costing £47m, is the only one said to be unviable.
Further work is to be carried out, including a formal market consultation, testing and auditing of the financial model and an investigation of alternative funding options, ahead of the final decision in autumn.
However, Cllr Lesley Hinds, transport convener for the council, said: “I am extremely pleased with the progress of the business case, which already shows the clear economic impact the extension of the tram line could have on the city.”
Tom Norris, the outgoing general manager of Edinburgh Trams, who is taking up a senior position with scandal-hit Abellio, spoke at yesterday’s UK Light Rail Conference in Nottingham and stated that in the first year of operation, despite there being some difficulties, passenger number were 10% higher than forecast.
Cllr Hinds added: “In the tram’s first year of operation we have seen passenger numbers increase, demonstrating a growing demand for public transport in Edinburgh and making the case for extending the tram to benefit people elsewhere in the city.
“But we don’t want to make any rash decisions about the future of the project, and that’s why further due diligence is required to ensure a robust financial case that can be used as a basis for an informed judgement.”
Edinburgh’s tram service began running in May 2014, after six years of disruption during the construction phase and a dispute between the city council and its contractor. The tram project was originally to extend to three main lines, with the total cost estimated to be £375m, and two of the three lines expected to be running by the summer of 2009.
A link between Granton and Haymarket has since been shelved, as was the planned line to Leith. The project also faced several threats of having its funding cut when the SNP came to power in 2007, however the then-minority administration was voted down by the other Scottish parties.
The tram project has so far cost £776m, with just one section now operating between Edinburgh Airport and St Andrews Square. It is now the subject of a public inquiry by Lord Hardie.
(Main image: c. Hec Tate and graph: c. David Arthur)
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